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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 27 August, 2014

‘Labour deserve to be slammed’: Socialist Party MEP on being a voice for the working class

Paul Murphy said Irish politicians are ‘obsessed’ with being the poster child for austerity in Europe.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE SOCIALIST MEP Paul Murphy who is running in this year’s European elections in Dublin says that Labour deserves to be “slammed” for some of its policy issues and for “selling out” he said.

The socialist activist who took the seat in the European Parliament after Joe Higgins was elected to the Dáil said he does not consider the Labour Party to be a “left” party.

When asked about his recent criticism of Emer Costello, who is also running in the upcoming elections, he said that he had slammed the approach of Costello and the Social Democrats on the Troika reports in the European Parliament.

In a speech made in the European Parliament he said:

“Her speech could be summed up with the phrase “The Troika told us to do it”. Is that the best excuse that the Labour Party and others can come up with? Did the dog eat your election manifesto too?”

Labour

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, he said, “I do not class Labour to be a left party. Labour deserve to be slammed for driving forward policies like JobBridge and Gateway,” he said, adding, “Joan Burton, a Labour Party member is behind these policies that are about the exploitation of workers”.

He said that the message that is being delivered is that Ireland was in a crisis and now that crisis is over, he said, adding that this is all just “spin”. He said the mounting debt that Irish citizens is still there. “They are using spin saying that we are in recovery, and these schemes, JobBridge and Gateway, are being used to rebuild our economy with cheap labour”.

He hit out against theses schemes stating that threatening to cut off someone social welfare for not partaking in these schemes was not acceptable and slammed Labour for putting their name to such policies.

On government policies that he does support, there is one. “Same-sex marriage. That is a policy I support, but they haven’t done anything about it yet,” he said.

Paul Murphy on…

The EU

When I came into the European Parliament, I didn’t know what to expect. But, if anything, being in parliament has hardened my views rather than mellowed them as I have seen first-hand how it works and how it is becoming more and more undemocratic, pushing austerity policies that have no benefit to the working class people in Ireland or Europe.

We are being told that we have gone through a crisis and now we are being told it is over and we are moving out of it. Yet they are still moving forward with the same policies that got us there and the same ones that were put in place to deal with the crisis. I want to highlight that these austerity policies are damaging peoples’ lives.

Ireland standing up to Europe

Ireland is a light touch when it comes to Europe. We are obsessed with being the poster child for being good and doing what we are told. They just love to hear praise and get a pat on the back from Barroso.

Being a socialist

Being a socialist in Europe can be isolating in itself, and being a young socialist also. I hope to be a voice against austerity in Europe and I want to use the platform I have to speak out against the policies – be a voice for the people, where their message is, no, austerity is not working for us.

Running in 2016

I’m focusing on the European election now, it’s not something that I have really thought about. Look, I never thought that I would one day be an MEP, I always thought I would be socialist activist, and then the opportunity was there for me to be voice for people at a European level.

If the party felt that I would be better suited somewhere else, or if they thought that someone else would be better where I am then perhaps it could be a possibility, but at the moment my focus is on the European elections.

On staying the five years in Europe

People are making a lot promises, saying: ‘yes, I will definitely stay the five years’, but I am not going to do that. I may well stay the five years, but if the party sees someone else suited here in a couple of years then that would all have to be considered.

What he hopes to achieve in Parliament

I will continue to use my platform to be a voice against austerity and the damaging policies that are being driven through by the parliament in Europe. I will continue in highlighting that the austerity agenda is undermining our democratic rights.

Electing people won’t necessarily bring about change. I can’t promise that if I am elected, there won’t be any water charges brought in, but if we can take seats away from Labour and other parties, and if we can start to rally a campaign against paying water charges, then we can rattle the government.

I want to continue my work for the people in looking at the measures that are being brought in that affect the Irish people but also carry on highlighting unjust issues taking place around the world, like that with me being involved in the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.

Being populist

There is no one here or in Europe representing the voices of the people. Irish politicians are telling Europe that we are getting back on track – but for me, I am there to use my platform, to show that actually, things aren’t all alright here. My role is about providing a platform and using it.

When I raised the issue of homosexuality and Pantigate in Europe it was to discuss the issue of homophobia in Ireland. The important person in this debate is Rory O’Neill and the great speech he made in The Abbey.

It was about me using my platform and my parliamentary privilege to drive the issue forward and that’s what I tried to do in my own small way.

Left-wing parties

Other than Joe Higgins, left-wing politicians in Ireland that are doing good are the likes of Richard Boyd Barret, we don’t agree on everything, but it is good to have left-wing voices in the Dáil.

The US

There was a lot of support for Barack Obama when he was elected, but I think that is fading now. Looking at the things that were promised, not many have been achieved. Guantanamo Bay is still in operation, Afghanistan and more people are killed by drone strikes now under Obama than there was under George Bush.

There is a rise in socialism in the states, we have seen that just recently with a man with socialist ideals being elected in the Seattle area, where there is a real ambition to drive up minimum wage. There was always the Republicans and the Democrats, but it’s great to see the working class pushing forward.

How many member states are in the EU:

28.

Who is the head of the European Commission:

Barroso.

Who is head of the European Council:

Herman van Rompuy.

Who is the president of the European Parliament:

Martin Schulz

Other candidates currently in the running for the European elections in Dublin include independent Nessa Childers, Lynn Boylan for Sinn Féin, Brian Hayes for Fine Gael, Emer Costello for Labour, Paul Murphy for the Socialist Party, Eamon Ryan for the Green Party, and Mary Fitzpatrick for Fianna Fáil.

TheJournal.ie intends to speak to all European Parliament candidates in the capital and elsewhere in the country before May’s elections.

Read: ‘Let him give me his number one, that’ll be fine’: Mary Fitzpatrick on Bertie and FF’s recovery>

Read: ‘I hate the viciousness of capitalism’: People Before Profit hopeful on the need for an alternative>

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